Courts’ stance on sexual crimes ‘encouraging’


13 March 2014

The government’s justice, crime prevention and security cluster says it is encouraged by the country’s courts, which have demonstrated an aggressive stance in addressing the scourge of sexual violence in South Africa.

Briefing journalists in Cape Town on Wednesday, the cluster’s chairperson, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, singled out severe sentences handed down in two prominent court cases: the 25-year prison sentence for the rapist and killer of Anene Booysen, and the 25 life terms given to the Tholeni serial rapist and killer from Butterworth in the Eastern Cape.

South Africa had adopted a zero-tolerance approach towards the abuse of women and children, and had made several interventions to address gender-based violence and sexual offences against vulnerable groups over the past five years, Radebe said.

These included the adoption and ascent of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act and the Child Justice Act, which was passed in 2008.

The government had also introduced 176 specialised Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units, which operate throughout the country, and appointed 2 139 forensic social workers to support the investigation of sexual crimes, including 79 forensic social workers for cases of child sexual abuse.

“Government has also established 39 fully functional Thuthuzela Care Centres, which serve as one-stop centres for incidents of rape,” Radebe said, adding: “Collectively, these interventions have led to 1 194 life sentences during the past three years.”

In order to reduce secondary victimisation of victims of sexual violence, the government had set up 919 victim-friendly facilities at police stations, and re-introduced sexual offences courts to give victims access justice in a victim-friendly environment.

“With regards to the National Register for Sex Offenders, the number of convicted sex offenders has increased from 2 792 names in March 2013 to 13 216 names in December 2013,” the minister said. In the month of October 2013 alone, 3 384 current and historic convictions were successfully registered.